Over these first 20 weeks, it’s been really hard for me to bond with the babe in my womb. As much as I’ve WANTED to feel the same connection & excitement I did with Ezekiel and Cruz, most of the time my brain has tried to turn off the not-so-minor detail that, OH, I’M PREGNANT! Not only has it been difficult sometimes to convince myself that there is in fact life growing inside my belly, but I’ve been equally mad at myself for feeling this way! I’ve beat myself up over not having that “motherly glow”, and I get angry whenever I find myself expecting miscarriage. (How many more times can I say “myself”?) I guess I’ve been through so much stress, heartache, and disappointment over the last year that I’ve forgotten what it’s like to look toward the future with anticipation of things hoped for.
After finding out that we were expecting another boy, I began questioning whether this pregnancy was a responsible move on our part. I think in my heart of hearts I knew that if I tried for a 3rd it would be another boy – but then again – why would God let that happen if He knows that boys are the ones affected by this gene? Surely He will give us a girl so that we can have a season of rejoicing and restoration! Right? But after the DNA test came back showing a predicted “male fetus”, I immediately started second guessing myself and God. Maybe every conception is NOT ordained and orchestrated by God… maybe He created a world that is totally self-sufficient and self-sustained; a vicious cycle that continues to repeat itself regardless of the chaos that lies in its wake. Does He really knit each and every one of us together inside our mother’s womb? If so, why do I carry this disorder in my genes? Why didn’t God just infuse the missing enzyme into Cruz’s failing liver if He so intentionally and intricately designed him? It was in the midst of my questioning, fear, and downright despair that I remembered a couple things I now find to be quite a m a z i n g:
1. I’ve had a name picked out for my little guy ever since I was pregnant with Cruz. I knew Cruz was suppose to be named Cruz, but after hearing a word I had heard all my life… suddenly I knew this word needed to be the name of my 3rd son. I wrote it down in my journal – – valor.
1. boldness or determination in facing great danger, especially in battle; heroic courage; bravery
synonyms : bravery, courage, nerve, daring, fearlessness, audacity, boldness, dauntlessness, stout-heartedness, heroism, backbone, spirit, spunk, moxie
1. Latin name meaning: Worthiness, Bravery
notes : from the medieval latin word val?re, meaning to be of worth, to be strong.
At the time, I had no idea that Cruz was to be born sick, nor did I know that I was a carrier of this life-threatening liver disorder. So, little did I know, the name Valor was prophetic. With a 50/50 chance at liver failure, all my boys will have to be fighters. The name Ezekiel means, “God will strengthen” or “may God strengthen him”, and after watching him walk through the loss of his brother, I’m realizing just how much strength Ezekiel is going to need throughout his childhood. He has to deal with the scary fact that every time he has a new brother, Mama leaves for a couple weeks, maybe even months, and she doesn’t always come home with the baby that was in her tummy. Valor, regardless of whether he is sick or not, will be separated from me at birth and sent to the ICU to be pricked and prodded (which then runs the risk of introducing infection and blood clots). He won’t be allowed to breastfeed until OTC deficiency is ruled out… which can take several days of testing. Best case scenario, he will get to go home after 10-ish stressful days in the NICU, and he’ll have to learn to breastfeed/bond after he’s already been introduced to a bottle. Worst case scenario, the testing reveals that he has the same condition as his older brother Cruz, and he has to stay in the hospital until a liver donor with a matching blood type arrives. He will (hopefully) have a successful transplant story and join the other 75% of OTC survivors – either way – my little Valor is going to need some strength and valor! That is why I’m SURE there’s a reason God gave me his name while I was still pregnant with Cruz. He knew what was coming… and my spirit was already being made aware.
2. Last October, my husband and I went to the beach for a leadership retreat. During one of the morning worship sessions, I had a bazaar vision that left me perplexed and quite frankly, frustrated. I can’t remember if my eyes were open or closed, but I suddenly saw Jesus standing on the other side of the room. He began to walk slowly, past each and every couple in our circle of leaders, eventually approaching me. As He passed me by, He stretched out His hand, reached into my body and removed an organ-like matter from my lower torso. He then replaced it with something that looked exactly the same, and as this exchange took place, I physically felt my body start to tingle from head to toe. It felt much like hitting your funny bone… an aggravating, somewhat paralyzing sensation. He then continued on, passing by the few remaining couples in our circle. WHAT JUST HAPPENED!? Immediately I began to rationalize and reduce my vision down to something I had simply imagined in my head. Or maybe it was real and I seriously just saw Him heal my liver of OTC deficiency! NO. That can’t be what happened, because in order for me to no longer have this disorder, my genes would have to be healed, not just my liver. He would have to do a complete blood exchange, or rewrite the sentences of my DNA…
Long story short, I disregarded the whole experience. That is until I found out I was pregnant about a month later, and pinpointed the day of Valor’s conception! Turns out, according to my fertility app, my husband and I had gotten a little frisky (must have been the coastal air) that first night at the beach, but there weren’t any other days we’d been together-together that week. I suddenly remembered my vision and realized, I saw Jesus specifically placing something into my body “the morning after” our night of hotel passion! After replaying the vision in my head, I truly believe what I saw that morning was actually Valor’s conception. It takes several hours for sperm and egg to meet… and I think Jesus visited me at that moment. Does this make me think that Valor is healthy? Not necessarily. What this did for me was solve my internal debate between ordained/orchestrated conception, and the random/reactionary outcomes of a life-producing planet. I believe that God not only placed Valor into my life intentionally and personally, but that He let me have a supernatural glimpse into this process so that I could fall back on that moment in times when I fear the pregnancy ending in sadness… when I’m having trouble bonding… when I’m hesitant to be hopeful.
I was even hesitant to share his name because I wasn’t convinced that this pregnancy was going to last. But now that I’m halfway through, and after considering the two very miraculous things I just shared above, my spirit is beginning to calm. We just had Valor’s 20 week ultrasound, and after seeing his sweet little face with the incredible 3D imaging, I’m suddenly feeling those feelings I’ve been longing to feel since the beginning. I’ve also started to feel his movements, finally, and with every toss and turn he tugs at my heart. I’m slowly making room to love a new baby that won’t be Cruz; I’m letting him fill some spaces that I previously tried to block; I’m allowing myself to be vulnerable for the sake of love. I want to love Valor with the same intensity as I did Cruz, not replacing the special connection that Cruz and I had, but also not withholding the undying love that Valor deserves. As much as it will hurt to reopen wounds that don’t feel completely closed, so much healing will come if I can allow myself to be lent to another, yet again.
We’re all excited to meet you Valor! What a strong, brave little boy you are going to be!
Psalm 139: 13-16
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.